Wednesday, March 18, 2015
A sign shop or a t-shirt printer from across town calls to have you “send over the files” from one of your customers so that they can use them for work they’re doing for that customer. A customer tells you he wants a Disney character used on his sign. Asking a customer for a deposit leaves them looking stunned.
The longer you’re in the sign business the more familiar these scenarios become. And the more tired you get with dealing with them.
Chris Bromlow, Cutting Edge Signs, El Reno, Oklahoma, recently sent me a form he put together to help ...
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Very often a customer sees a sign just as identification—overlooking the advertising power of a sign. Sometimes a basic sign for identification is all they need or all their budget will allow. But there are real benefits to developing the design skills that let you create signs that deliver real advertising value. Here’s why:
1. The customer gets a much more powerful sign that will bring them more sales at a lower cost than almost any other advertising. That keeps them coming back to you, and leads to referrals, too.
2. You can charge more for your work, even though ...
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
What do you have to sell? Quick turnaround and low prices are popular approaches. The problem with selling those features, though, is that there’s often someone willing to do the sign a little faster and a little cheaper. That can create a downward spiral that shrinks or eliminates profits.
But many a sign business has developed a profitable niche selling designs that are more effective and more appealing. Why? Because then you’re selling something unique that your customers may not be able to get elsewhere.
In his book, Mastering Layout, the late Mike Stevens explained how to use the ...
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
It can happen to the best of us. We’re so concerned with layout and production, and so busy, that we don’t check the copy carefully. Even if we check the spelling, we may not give the punctuation a second thought.
Since many customers can’t accurately punctuate (or spell!), it’s important to do that for them if you want to avoid doing the sign over or making a correction on site. As we all know, making a sign again for free is no fun.
Unless you marry or hire an English major, you’ll need a quick way to check punctuation. Fortunately,
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Like most sign shops, Larry Elliott handles a wide variety of work at Elliott Designs [www.elliottdesignpro.com]. When you have to price a plaque one minute and a monument sign the next, it's easy to overlook something.
“For custom signs,” says Larry, “most projects include many techniques. It’s not cookie-cutter production. It is very easy to overlook a few simple steps, and this time loss can cut deeply into profits.
“Learning how to accurately estimate labor costs is the hardest part of making signs. For years I based my time estimates on previous jobs and trying to remember where I lost ...
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The fastest, easiest way to increase your sign business’s profits, of course, is to simply raise your prices. But it isn’t always quite so simple. You may feel your market won’t support higher prices or the competition is too stiff to risk it.
Fortunately, there are other ways to send more dollars to your bottom line without raising your prices. Just ask other successful sign shop owners, as SignCraft does. They almost always mention that one or more of the following five ways help them increase profits for their shop.
None of the five are hard or involve buying new ...
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Many, if not most, sign people find their way into the industry from an interest in the creative side of sign making. While that helps handle the daily demands for coming up with new ideas, it doesn’t always help with the business of running a profitable business. And it’s the ability to run a sign business profitably that determines whether you’ll be able to be your own boss in years to come.
“Early in the business,” says Leon Yoder, Legendary Designs, Shipshewana, Indiana, “I had an outstanding employee who didn’t require much management from me. As the business grew and ...
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
A sign shop is a busy place, where it’s very true that “the devil is in the details.” One of the reasons money gets lost and time gets wasted is communication errors along the line about the details—between the client and you, and between you and your staff.
A good work order form helps you collect everything you need from the client to quote and produce the sign successfully. And if you have staff, it's even more critical that all the information gets passed along to them, so that they can do their job without tracking down what they need ...
Friday, September 19, 2014
Tomm Moll, Signs by Tomm, Utica, New York, started out in graphics then wound up selling ads for a newspaper. Many of his clients were car dealers. In the process of selling ads to them, his car dealer clients convinced him to open a sign shop and do their signs. That was over 30 years ago, and he’s still at it.
“You can bet I learned a lot about selling signs from being around car dealers,” says Tomm. “All car salespeople do is sell, so they can get pretty good at it. My background includes a lot of sales ...
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The best way to find out is to ask, so we recently asked readers of our Trade Secrets e-letter what they would charge to letter a truck similar to the one Bob Stephens [Skywatch Signs, Zephyrhills, Florida] designed for the Design & Price feature in the July/August issue of SignCraft.
Bob’s layout was for a white tow truck, and he included a gradient stripe that went back on
the bed as part of the design. We asked readers to quote this job as shown, excluding any additional lettering that a customer might add.
What did the hundreds of respondents ...